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Sunday 4 April 2021

‘The Girl Who…’ by Andreina Cordani

Published by Atom,
14 January 2021.
ISBN: 978-0-349-00352-8 (PBO)

Leah Stokes was seven when her mother and baby sister were stabbed to death in front of her eyes. Already traumatized by that experience, her suffering is exacerbated because she convinces herself it is her fault that they are dead. This is not as fanciful as it may seem because Leah had deliberately acquired a passing acquaintance with Boyd, the damaged boy who killed them.  Leah’s recovery is further compromised by her devoted father, David who wraps her up in cotton wool, protects her from everything and everybody and gets her to preach forgiveness at every available opportunity. Little does David know, that far from forgiving Boyd (now called Crow), Leah’s brain is riddled with thoughts of revenge.

Ten years later, two major events change Leah’s life. The first thing that happens is that David falls for Claire. She has two children, Ellie, who is about Leah’s age, and Dylan who is much younger. The three of them move into David and Leah’s cramped quarters over the bookshop that David runs.  Ellie, described as “girls personified on steroids”, couldn’t be more different from the quiet, retiring Leah.  Ellie gradually realizes that Leah isn’t the little goody-goody she pretends to be - she is both manipulative and scheming and is hiding an alarming degree of suppressed violence towards Crow/Boyd. The full extent of Leah’s scheming becomes clear after the second major event happens. Crow/Boyd is released from detention.  Leah buys a sharp knife…

Whilst this book is permeated with the thoughts of past and potential crime along with Leah’s worries that she was responsible for inciting Crow/Boyd’s actions, the thing I enjoyed most about the girl who was the portrayal of its three teenage protagonists, Leah and Ellie and the mentally fragile young man, Boyd/Crow.  Each of the three take turns to tell their stories and I thought their attitudes, behavior and dialogue were both realistically and sympathetically portrayed. The awful peer pressure exerted on Boyd/Crow created such a sense of inevitability about his crimes that one could hardly help but feel sorry for him. Also, the difficulties of the relationship between two girls with such different characters being thrown together in a tiny space seemed both authentic and illuminating.  Overall a most satisfying and thought-provoking read.

Reviewer: Angela Crowther.

Andreina Cordani pursued a career in journalism, working for women’s magazines including Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping. Specialising in ‘real life’ stories, she interviews seemingly ordinary people about their extraordinary lives – most of which you wouldn’t believe if you read it in a novel.
She lives on the Dorset coast with her family where she reads voraciously, watches YouTubers with increasing fascination and swims in the sea.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.


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